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On Purpose$
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Michael Ruse

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195957

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195957.001.0001

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Plato Redivivus

Plato Redivivus

(p.114) Chapter Seven Plato Redivivus
On Purpose

Michael Ruse

Princeton University Press

This chapter traces the triumph of the Kantian perspective. From the time of the Scientific Revolution to the present, vocal representatives are characterized as the Platonic approach or tradition and of the Aristotelian approach or tradition. Before the Origin, there were those like William Whewell and Adam Sedgwick, professor of geology at Cambridge, who simply put down the origins of new species to divine intervention. The fossil record shows that there has been a turnover of forms, and extinction is almost certainly due to natural causes. But when it comes to new forms, God intervenes miraculously. After the Origin, there were those who felt the same way. Louis Agassiz, Swiss-born ichthyologist and professor at Harvard, could never accept evolution, even though his students stepped over the line pretty sharpishly. The preferred option though, for those who were Christians believing in a Creator God, was some form of guided evolution. God puts direction into new variations and hence natural selection has at most a kind of garbage disposal function—it gets rid of the bad forms but does little or nothing to create new, good forms.

Keywords:   Kantian perspective, Scientific Revolution, Platonic tradition, Aristotelian, William Whewell, Adam Sedgwick, divine intervention, Creator God, evolution

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